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Biden is killing it in South Carolina and the Sanders campaign had better take notes, because this is not just a loss but a potential disaster. Biden is winning every single county with the black vote. This is how Clinton won four years ago, and Bernie supporters had better stop blaming the DNC or anyone else. Black voters want an electable candidate, and an electable candidate is not somebody who alienates the entire Cuban-American population with one really stupidly worded sentence. I hope this doesn’t hugely impact what Bernie has been building for Tuesday.

If we want to win this we have to stop attacking other candidates and especially supporters of other candidates. If you’re not going to vote for Biden or Warren in November even if they win, fine. But shut up about it, because it is marginalizing Bernie with mainstream Democratic voters, and we can’t win without them. And basically you’re telling them that you are only in solidarity with them if they are useful to you.

Bernie can still win this, but this blowout win by Biden by black voters rejecting Bernie has hurt his chances. When Bernie took less than 20 percent of the South Carolina black voter the last time, I pretty much knew he was going to lose the nomination. Black voters are about a fifth of the Democratic primary electorate. It looks like he’s won over Latinos, but not so much African Americans. Maybe it will be different outside of the south.

There are only three days until Super Tuesday, thankfully. The full meaning of this loss probably won’t sink in with voters. But he cannot afford your open expression of sectarianism speaking on behalf of his campaign, so stop it.

Meanwhile, Tom Steyer dropped out.

The suggestion comes as Mexico confirms a fourth case.  But doesn’t that seem extreme over a hoax?

Meanwhile, in the U.S. we’ve suffered our first coronavirus death and the officials can’t seem to decide on the victim’s gender.  The person is the fourth known case in the US not associated with travel or a traveler.

First, I think Biden will probably win big in South Carolina tomorrow (thanks in large party to the Clyburn endorsement and his least worst debate performance on Tuesday night), possibly revitalizing his campaign somewhat.  But will it be enough to stop the anticipated Bernie train?

(quick addendum – per the question in the comments, in my prediction Bloomberg may come in second in a couple of states, but I don’t think he’ll take any and if Biden’s campaign is in any way reinvigorated tomorrow, I think Bloomberg will fizzle and be out of the race by the end of March, if that long.  I don’t think Bloomberg will get much DNC support as there are plenty of left party voters who say they will vote blue no matter who – except for Bloomberg).

Where Bernie will probably win big:

Vermont – duh

California – not just because of the polls, but because of an incredible organization and exponentially increased support from Latino voters (from 2016).  He’ll be holding large concerts/rallies in San Jose and Los Angeles on Sunday, and I don’t think Warren’s 9 million dollar ad buy is going to change much.  She may come in second, but I think she’s effectively done after Tuesday.

Texas – This is a state which is rapidly turning blue, as foretold by Steve Bannon (it’s why he was inspired to primary Eric Cantor and push the Trump candidacy and anti-immigrant policies desperately trying to get nonwhite residents out of the country to reduce the number of birth-right citizens), and Bernie has held huge rallies across the state including a 13,000 full house in Austin recently.  Biden was ahead in the polls, but hasn’t even shown up in Texas since January.  He is making a stop over the weekend.  But, again, the Latino vote and the left-leaning tech vote seems to be really working for Bernie.  Also, in conservative areas of the state and country, Bernie has a following among white working class voters that no other Democrat (with the dubious exception of Klobuchar) can match and would really be a boon in November.

Colorado – again the Latino vote and the large hippie and tech communities, and a real organization should give him a large plurality here.

Americans living abroad – We won’t know for a week because their voting spans Marc 3 to March 10, but Sanders cleaned up the last time around – most of these Americans live in democratic socialist countries and experience the difference first hand.  He will probably clean up again.

Where Bernie will probably win moderately:

Virginia – Most polls have him ahead here and I don’t think Kaine’s endorsement of Biden is going to make much of a difference.  Virginia is one of those states with a lot of grassroots activity which has turned the local and statewide elections around for Democrats, and those activists favor candidates like Bernie’s.

Utah – Bernie clobbered Clinton here in 2016 and will probably win big – the white working class voters who remain Democrats and the hippies who’ve moved there from California are having a large impact.  With seven candidates he probably won’t do as well, but it’s hard to say because polling is notoriously inaccurate in Utah.

Maine – I would expect similar results as New Hampshire.  He has a good ground game here as well.

Massachusetts – This is why I think Warren will drop out after Tuesday.  She probably won’t carry her own state.  Bernie is ahead in all the polls and Bernie is really popular, particularly in and around Boston, but also in some of the western towns.  If Warren wasn’t in the race, this would be a blowout for Sanders.

Toss ups:

Oklahoma – I wish Bernie had spent more time here.  It was the only south state in which Bernie decisively defeated Clinton in 2016 – more white votes than black there.  But trying to allocate time and resources for Super Tuesday is really difficult and you have to make hard choices.  That being said, this could be close and Bernie could win the plurality.

Minnesota – Klobuchar has been barely ahead of Bernie in some polls and behind in others.  Bernie did very well here in 2016 as he did in Wisconsin and Michigan.  She has received media accolades for debate performances, but it has not translated into really desirable results in polls or races (even New Hampshire was a bit of a media hype).   There is the loyalty base, and then there is the white working class support for Bernie.  Many of my fellow Bernie supporters bristle at the suggestion, but I think he should seriously consider her for VP.

North Carolina – it’s becoming much less of a “southern state” culturally and although there is a large elderly black vote population there, other groups could boost Bernie.  Biden will probably get the most votes, but I think it will be a plurality with Bernie (and maybe Bloomberg) close behind.

Where Bernie will probably lose:

American Samoa – Clinton won easily in 2016.  Nobody has the time or resources to campaign there.  They are citizens.  They will probably opt for Biden.

Tennessee – Bernie hasn’t spent any time here and it’s clearly Biden country.  His wife Jane was there yesterday.  Hopefully Biden doesn’t run away with it, but there’s just no way that even the majority of Tennessee Democrats are going to vote for a Jewish socialist.  Much of the elderly southern black vote is still going for the mainstream of “electibility.”

Alabama – much the same as Tennessee, and actually there is rumor that Bernie has deliberately avoided much activity in the state to avoid undermining the small chances Doug Jones has of retaining his Senate seat.

Arkansas – Same as above.  Southern state.  Elderly black vote.  Biden/DNC influence.




Solano County is technically “northern California” I guess. Anyway, Redheaded Blackbelt reports that there are no new cases in Humboldt County.

But the case in Solano involves someone who did not travel and is not immediately connected to anyone who did.  It’s of some concern.  The patient is being treated at UC Davis.

I’m sure glad Pence is on it!  I guess Kudlow didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence.

There is talk of cancelling the Olympicsset to take place in Tokyo this summer.


Bernie is winning hugely in Nevada! Although I trust entrance polls for caucuses even less than I trust exit polls, if they are at all accurate he trounced everyone else with the Latino vote and did well, just behind Biden, with the African American vote. And despite the Culinary Union leadership trying to throw cold water on his campaign, he appears to have won the rank and file there. And this wasn’t a close win – it was a blowout.

I’m not going to cheapen the win by quoting some of the more mainstream Democratic commentators – their freakouts have ranged from whiny to bizarre. But I noticed something in Bernie’s win speech in El Paso. He isn’t commenting on the media or the DNC “establishment.” He was mostly attacking Trump and pushing his policies. Obviously, it’s not over, but I wonder if at this point he starts calling for more party unity. Of course, the other candidates will have their knives out in Tuesday’s debate and hopefully he doesn’t lose his cool. He can fight back, but he should stay on message and laugh the attacks off (as he has mostly done).

Anyway, this was a great day for progressive politics. Now the naysayers need to chill out.

Photo comes from Huffington Post.


Some interesting Q poll numbers here. Bernie and the Democrats are doing okay in Michigan and Pennsylvania at the moment, but not as well in Wisconsin. I’m understanding why they are holding their convention in Milwaukee, where the black turnout was historically low in 2016. They really need to turn things around in Wisconsin, and Bernie clobbered HRC there because of his trade policy platform.
That was a fun debate last night, and yeah Bloomberg took some hits.  But don’t assume his campaign is over.  He has plenty of money and time to smooth it over and he’ll probably do better on Tuesday.
Warren did pretty well for herself.  We’ll see if it translates into results.

From Ed Denson:

Well, friends, the Measure S lawsuit decision has come down. I heard about it around 2:15 this afternoon from my co-counsel, Fred Fletcher. I suppose that now that the decision is released, I should phone Netflix and see if they want to follow up on the footage they shot of Fred and I filing the suit way long ago.

I’m sure you remember the basis for the suit. Right? We’ll let me refresh your memory a bit. In the legalization delirium the county put Measure S on the 2016 ballot. All the growers were running around saying, legalize it, tax me, make pot part of norml American life. The wise members of the Board of Supervisors heard the outcry of the people, and they drafted Measure S as a tax on legal commercial cannabis. Frankly it didn’t sound like much of a tax. $1 a square foot for outdoor growing. But it was a real tax, $1 a square foot wasn’t much but it was enough to show that pot had come out of the shadows into the mainstream of our society. So, it passed, it passed by about 62% if I recall properly. We were ecstatic. A dream held for so many years had come true, and a bright tomorrow awaited all the family growers at the end of so many winding dirt roads in the hills. No more helicopters, no more vandalism by the cops, growers could hold their heads up and become Rotarians.

I’m a lawyer, and made a career out of defending busted pot growers. Suddenly there were essentially no busted pot growers. What to do? I started helping unbusted pot growers get licensed. (And many thanks to Paul Gallegos for nudging me into it.) So I was cheerfully giving advice in late 2017 about Measure S, among other things, and some detail slipped my mind. So I went to the internet and found the county code for the Measure S tax. It wasn’t anything like what I remembered, and it wasn’t anything like what I was advising people it was. It was much less favorable to growers, all sorts of stuff seemed different. Well, I’m getting up in years. Perhaps I had had a senior moment. Still something bothered me because I had such a clear idea of what the Measure S tax was and how it worked. That clarity is not typical of senior moments.

As time went by I poked around, and one day I found the original text of Measure S, just like it was on the ballot we all voted for (I did, how ‘bout you?) And lo and behold the original text was just as I remembered it. I wasn’t having a senior moment, someone had changed the text after the vote.
I thought about that for a while, and found the date the changes were made (mid-year 2017) by the Board of Supervisors. Only Supervisor Ryan voiced any concern about changing what the voters had approved, and that concern was fleeting. He voted to make the changes, along with the other Supes.

Can they do that? I wondered. So in some spare time I poked around again, and sure enough the answer was no. In fact it was NO! I mentioned what had happened to a few other lawyers I encountered in the cannabis bar, in various counties, and they all agreed. The Board of Supervisors cannot change a tax after the voters have approved it. Huh, I thought. Someone ought to sue them. Certainly not me. I’ve never done a civil suit except a few asset forfeiture cases, and I don’t know how to write them. Well, someone will see this opportunity to benefit the people of the county and seize it. Wrong. Some felt that if they sued they’d get on the wrong side of the county government with unspecified bad results. Others distrusted the honor of the courts, sort of “the judges are all in the pockets of the Board” so the suit will never get anywhere. Some probably thought such a suit will never make any money, it’s a waste of time.

Then I found Fred Fletcher and he liked the suit and became my co-counsel. Most importantly, he knew how to write civil suits and he wrote up a beauty. I tinkered with the language a bit, but fundamentally it was his authorship. About this time Netflix came to town to do their Murder Mountain “documentary.” It must have been mid 2018. They came to film me (I got about 15 seconds of screen time) and got excited about the suit. Their film crew came and filmed the filing. The press was there too. But lawsuits move slowly and they had a film to get out, so all their lawsuit film ended up on the cutting room floor, as they say. Actually , probably in storage somewhere. The press went off to cover other stories.

Criminal law moves slowly. My longest case took 4 years. That was exceptional, but 1 or 2 years is not. That’s the Indie 500 compared with Civil Law cases which are glacial. So, autumn turned to winter, 2018 turned to 2019, and 2019 to 2020 and still the suit was in the courts. Gradually, over time, people stopped asking about it. I did get an email from county counsel of another county recently asking about it, “did the county settle” they asked. “No,” I said, “we’re finished arguing the case and now we’re awaiting the judge’s opinion. It’ll probably take a few more months.”

Wrong. Fled Fletcher called me around 2:15 today. He found a copy of the judge’s opinion in his box at the courthouse. “And?”, I said. “And we won,” he said. It turns out we won 3 of the 5 points at issue. The judge said that the county could not change the person taxed from the grower to the property owner, and they could not change the area taxed from the cultivation area to the area on the county permit, and they could not charge anything to people who had a permit but didn’t grow.

On the other hand, although the ballot measure said the tax was biennial, (spell check didn’t know the word, it means collected every 2 years) that was what we in the law call a “scrivenor’s error” (spell check didn’t know that one either) for biannually (twice a year), and although the ballot measure said that to be taxed you had to be cultivating in compliance with local, state, and federal law, no voter could have believed that the tax would be held up until federal legalization. Had we prevailed on the federal issue, no one would have owed any tax at all. As the law stands with this decision, some people have been wrongfully taxed, others have been rightfully taxed. The wrongfully taxed should get refunds, with interest, I think.

However, the story may not be at its end yet. The county has a period of time in which to appeal, and who knows we may be headed for the US Supreme court sometime in the 2020s. If it’s going that way I plan on living long enough to see it happen.

So, good night, friends. May you dream big and your dreams come true. Sleep well.

There is a lot of debate right now about whether social democracy is democratic socialism, and whether there is such a thing as a “mixed economy.” Private market advocates and Marxist socialists agree with each other – if it’s not government owning the means of production it’s not socialism.
But the term social democracy arose from the socialist movement and was used at least as far back as Fourier in the 1820s, predating Marxist theory and the much misunderstood phrase “the dictatorship of the proletariat” debated intensely by Lenin and Karl “the Renegade” Kautsky as the Third International broke away from the Second as the latter adopted transition to socialism through reform rather than violent revolution.
The first party to adopt the name “Social Democratic” was the precursor to the German SPD in the latter half of the 19th century – long before the Kautsky/Lenin debate.
Marxism is but one variant of socialism, which has been termed “cooperative communalism,” “economic democracy,” and other concepts which simply view socialism as the process of organizing an economy under cooperative rather than strictly competitive principles.
The fact is, most of the Euro-socialist countries have government-owned industries, and some are even a hybrid in which citizens can buy shares though the government retains a controlling interest number of shares.
But it’s really pointless to have the discussion if you don’t read up on the history of the terms and the evolution of the concepts. The social democrats have always regarded themselves as socialists – that’s why term has the word “social” in it. The social democratic and labor parties remain members of the Socialist (Second) International.
I’ve searched for a good concise history of the terms, and Commonweal, the liberal Catholic magazine which was one of the few to stand up to McCarthyism, has the best I’ve found so far which isn’t a treatise.

For each of the viable and semi-viable Democratic candidates, whom do you think would be the best VP to help win the general election? Yes, I know that there is more to a VP choice, but try to focus on the election question alone.

Here are my suggestions.

Bernie Sanders – Amy Klobuchar
Pete Buttiegieg – Sherrod Brown
Amy Klobuchar – Corey Booker
Elizabeth Warren – Sherrod Brown
Joe Biden – Kamala Harris
Mike Bloomberg – someone black


February 2020